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After hours of intense debate, the Lok Sabha today passed the The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill,2019. The legislation seeks to make it easier for non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to gain citizenship in the country. The legislation is applicable to groups who arrived in India on or before December 31,2014. They include Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Parsi, Jain and Sikh who faces persecution in the three countries.
The citizenship Bill says the six non-Muslim communities “shall not be treated as illegal migrant”. The Bill also proposes to protect the applicants under this category from all pending legal cases, with regard to illegal migration.
What is the government logic behind the bill?
Centre says these minority groups have come escaping persecution in Muslim-majority nations. However, the logic is not consistent the bill does not protect all religious minorities, nor does it apply to all neighbours. The Ahmedia Muslim sect and even shias face discrimination in Pakistan. Rohinya Muslima and Hindus face presecution in neighbouring Burma, and Hindu and Christian Tamils in neighbouring Sri Lanka. The government responds that Muslims can seek refuge in Islamic nations, but has not answered the other questions.
The citizenship Amendment Bill is being opposed by opposition parties and many civil rights activists on the ground that it discriminates against Muslims. They say that such discrimination is unconstitutional under Article 14.
Article 14 is one of the cornerstones of the Constitution. It States, “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India”.